Beware the Jaded Rheumatologist

Beware the Jaded Rheumatologist

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By Dr Irwin Lim, Rheumatologist

These photos are from my recent Bali holiday. It's my favourite holiday destination at the moment. Within a couple of hours of landing, and after negotiating the chaos of the airport, my family and I always feel a wave of calm & relaxation.

Happens every time. It's a strange magic that works on me.

It's also really important for my wellbeing.

And the wellbeing of my patients.

My job involves seeing patients, almost all hours of my working day, every day I run clinic which is most days of the week. Unlike a surgeon, there is no down time, there is no non-verbal time. There is always another individual (and their entourage) to interact with, to listen to, to talk to, to educate and to explain to.

And they always come with a problem that needs to be sorted out.

Usually that's pain and suffering. Sometimes, it's reassurance that's needed, sometimes it's correction of misinformation.

Don't get me wrong. I really enjoy my role and it's what I want to do.

But, it is draining. After many, many consultations on a string of busy days, I can get grumpy and impatient. I can feel myself being less compassionate. I will rush and will likely appear more curt.

That's a sign I need a break and nowadays, I build in breaks into my week. I also break for conferences, which are important for my education but also provide some non-patient contact time. Holidays are no longer a luxury but have become part of the balancing act to keep me at my peak performance.

Yes, I'm one of those "lazy" Generation X doctors, striving for more work-life balance.

I watch some colleagues who work punishing schedules. I don't know how they do it. I'm not sure how they avoid being jaded.

In the social media world, there are so often complaints about doctors who don't seem to care. Maybe, at least in part, this is due to them working way too hard.

What are your thoughts?

Dr Irwin Lim is a rheumatologist and a director of BJC Health. You should follow him on twitter here.
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